The Healthy Snack Formula
Most people (including myself) enjoy snacking. In fact, research has suggested that 24% of all food consumed amongst Canadians come from snack meals. In addition, recent research based out of the University of Guelph found that one third of young children's total daily energy intake came from snacks.
When we hear the word snack we often think of chips, cookies, or other high energy 'snacky' foods. In fact, when asking Canadians their primary reason for snacking, the majority of people responded with enjoyment, indulgence, and convenience. The most common snacks being reported as, fruit, yogurt, potato chips, chocolate, cookies, snack bars, and nuts.
When asked about the most common times for snacking, a large majority of people snack between lunch and dinner meals. The afternoon is often a time where we begin to feel fatigued and are looking for an energy boost. This might be the time when the sweet cravings kick in and we begin searching for high energy foods.
A big proportion of our total daily intake is coming from snacks, so we need to rethink our snacking routines and ensure we are offering our bodies healthy foods that provide us with key nutrients and energy to fuel the day.
Bottom line: we need to think about snacks as mini meals, because when they make up a third of our calories each day, the quality of our snacking matters.
To help I am sharing my very basic snacking 'formula' to help you prepare your healthy snacks.
The formula is simple, your snack should consist of 2 macronutrients. It can include all 3, but at least 2 ensures there is a balance of nutrients in your 'mini meal.; Your macronutrients include carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Healthy Snack = 2 Macronutrients
Carb+Protein - open faced tuna salad sandwich
Fat+Carb - popcorn with roasted peanuts
Protein + Fat - hard boiled egg with 2 cheese cubes
My top 5 favourite snacks are listed below. They include 2 macronutrients and typically always contain either protein or a healthy fat, this helps keep you satisfied, which in turn will reduce those mid-day cravings!
1. Rice cake or whole grain cracker and avocado, imaged above (carb + fat)
I love this snack because it's tasty and crunchy. It is also a great source of healthy fats and whole grains. I like to sprinkle sesame and other seeds on my sliced avocado for some extra crunch and flavour.
2. Trail mix with dried fruit (carb + fat/protein)
This is my favourite 'on the go' snack, it's easy to pack and the perfect tag along when you're in a rush. The dried fruit helps satisfy my sweet tooth and the nuts provide healthy fats that help promote satiety.
3. Yogurt bowl with fresh fruit, cinnamon, coconut (carb + protein)
I must admit I am a yogurt fan, I like to alternate between plain Greek yogurt and coconut yogurt (a dairy alternative). This snack is filling and also helps satisfy sweet cravings.
4. Apple/banana with nut butter (I typically use almond, peanut, or sunflower seed butter) (carb + fat/protein)
This is probably my favourite pre workout snack, it's the perfect balance of carbs and healthy fats. It is a great energy boosting snack that will leaving you feeling ready to tackle the rest of your day. If you or a family member have a nut allergy, try sunflower seed butter.
Try this: dip a sliced apple in your favourite nut butter then dip that into granola for some extra crunch and flavour (I promise you will not regret trying this).
5. Smoothies (carb + protein or fat)
Smoothies make for the perfect pre/post workout snack. They are also a great way to include nutrient dense foods, including veggies like spinach and kale into your diet.
*Nuts and seeds can be considered either a healthy fat or protein, that's why I have fat/protein in my snack formula.*
I hope this provided you with some simple and healthy snack ideas. If you need some additional support or suggestions, please connect with me!
Cheers to happy and healthy snacking.
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO
Consumer Report (2014). Snacking in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sis13895
Chamoun, E. (2018). Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Taste Receptor Genes Are Associated with Snacking Patterns of Preschool-Aged Children in the Guelph Family Health Study: A Pilot Study. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29385734